The Metropolitan Transportation Authority was battling to restore service for the Friday evening rush-hour after torrential rains flooded out key tracks under the East River and in The Bronx, crippling the subway system and the Metro-North commuter railroad.
The scenes played out across the city: In Brooklyn, straphangers packed the platforms at the Atlantic Avenue subway hub, where just two of the nine subway lines were running — and both were struggling with major delays.
Across the river, in Manhattan, commuters trying to get home to Westchester and Connecticut packed into Grand Central Terminal where Metro-North had suspended much of its service after a key stretch of trunk line in The Bronx went underwater.
“This is not an ordinary rainfall: this is historic. We are on track to possibly create a new record of 10 inches of rain falling in literally 24 hours,” Gov. Hochul said at an afternoon MTA press conference at Grand Central, where she appeared via a video link from her offices at the state capitol in Albany.
Commuters trying to get home had few options available. The only lines operating close to their normal schedules were the No. 7 and the J/Z.
Service between Brooklyn and Manhattan on the 7th Avenue and Lexington Avenue subways — the No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 lines, collectively — was suspended. Ditto for the L and the Broadway subway’s N, Q and R lines.
No. 1 trains were not operating south of 137th Street. No. 6 trains were not operating between The Bronx and Manhattan.
The crosstown G line wasn’t operating at all for much of the day.
Officials had restored service on the Eighth Avenue and Sixth Avenue subways — the A/C/E and B/D/F/M — but they were running with major delays.
MTA officials advised straphangers heading to eastern Queens to consider taking the Long Island Rail Road, which had avoided much of the storm’s wrath and running much of its schedule.
“This would have been a lot worse if we hadn’t gotten pretty good — unfortunately, in the era of climate change — at preparing for these kinds of weather events,” said MTA chairman Janno Lieber. “Deploying pump trains, covering all the grates, making sure all the drains are working.”
Metro-North chief Cathy Rinaldi said she hoped to have the northern suburbs commuter link back up-and-running at 100% by Saturday.
Fiona Kelleher, an NYU college student, was patiently waiting for a train at Grand Central with a box of cookies in hand for her planned visit with her family in Brewster. She said that she’d been told the wait could be as long as two hours.
“I was about to call them to tell them I’ll be late,” she told said. “If I’m here for two hours, morale will be very low.”
Officials also said they hoped to be able to run usual Saturday schedule on the subways, too.
At the press conference, they pointed to geography as a key reason the subway disruptions had lasted for so much of Friday: That the storm’s record-setting rains hit parts of the city along the East River particularly hard, which is where the tracks go deep to get under the water.
That meant flooding quickly flowed into parts of the system where pumping is hardest.
“The subway system is obviously the lowest point, so, depending on where the rain comes, it’s going to seek the lowest point in the subways,” said Demetrius Crichlow, who oversees the day-to-day operations of the subway system.